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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Loathsome GOP: "Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right . . ."

Donald Trump’s biggest crime is his honesty: How he exposes the sickening rot at the core of the GOP 

Republicans have spent decades dressing up fear as courage, pretending at seriousness while advancing hysteria 

Donald Trump's biggest crime is his honesty: How he exposes the sickening rot at the core of the GOP(Credit: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
Many of us cast last week’s Republican debate in Cleveland as entertainment—I have heard the thought repeated many times—but this seems to me a cheap dodge. To laugh at the assembly of 10 right-wing presidential aspirants for two hours of questioning is to flinch from a truth too heavy to bear even as we must. The Fox News spectacle counts as entertainment only as tragedy does.
Given the position these people seek, the decisions the next president will make, how seriously our media and many voters take them, and the money lining up to advance one or another of them into office, we have just been advised of how very perilous the American predicament is at this moment. Bad as the candidates’ domestic agendas are, the danger is greater, far greater, on the foreign policy side, and this is our topic.
Somebody smart recently defined tragedy as the difference between what is and what could have been. This is the thought: We have a brief time left to correct our course before the American experiment begins to self-destruct beyond retrieval, and we have not yet proven strong or brave or honest enough to make the move. To me, this is what makes last Thursday’s spectacle tragic rather than comic.
I have thought since the Tea Party’s appearance on the political scene half a dozen years ago that the American right was destined to destroy itself before our eyes. Last week’s G.O.P. display—it was politics as spectacle, not a debate—convinces me of this. The Republican Party as it has been in history is already gone, more or less, and is being replaced—more swiftly than one would have thought possible—with what amounts to a fanatical fringe.
Good enough that the Republicans tip into unreason, you might think. But who could have guessed that irrationality was a winning political platform? Who would have imagined even a few years ago that the Rockefeller wing of the party was so spineless and desperate to win Washington that it would capitulate to extremists thoroughly incompetent to address the 21st century’s self-evident realities?
The question to come is whether the American electorate will commission those who have usurped the G.O.P. to destroy a lot more than the party. Put any one of these people in office and Americans will forfeit their chance to participate constructively in a self-evidently emergent world order, to escape a past that now haunts us, to act abroad out of something other than fear.
We have to start with Donald Trump to understand what we are getting from the right flank of our right-wing nation. It may seem unlikely, but Trump and the reaction to him among his G.O.P. opponents took me right back to my years as a correspondent in Tokyo: Every so often a cabinet minister in the long-governing Liberal Democratic Party would make some egregiously unsound remark about the righteousness of Japan’s Pacific war, objectionable Westerners or the inferiority of the Chinese. The next day he would be sanctimoniously removed from office and forced to provide a ritualized apology that meant nothing.
What was the offending minister’s sin? It lay not in his thinking or convictions, one came quickly to recognize, but in articulating publicly the views of all orthodox Liberal Democrats.
This is Trump among his fellow Republicans. Post-Cleveland, I think of him as the id of the G.O.P. The other 16 candidates detest him more than any Democrat does, I would wager, because there is no air whatsoever between the Donald’s views—assuming they remain stable long enough to make them out—and those of anyone else vying for office in the reconstituted G.O.P.
All that marks out Trump from other Republican aspirants is his presentation, the too-blunt-to-bear crudity of his prejudices against too many things and people to count, his hollowed-out presumptions of American primacy, his impossible promise to lunge backward to “make America great again.”
In a word, Trump comes up with the wrong affect. And there is no understanding the spectacle American politics has become, or why this nation conducts itself so recklessly abroad, unless we grasp the importance of affect in the American consciousness and American public life.
Trump is correct in his estimation of what a right-wing American pol has to be to get anywhere: dismissive of the Other, intolerant of all alternative perspectives, suspicious of thought, given to action (preferably violent) while indifferent to its consequences. Trump’s ultimate sin—a paradox here—is to possess an affect so plainly the sum total of what he has to offer that it exposes the rest of the Republican crowd: They are all empty but for slightly varied poses. All they have for us is affect.
* * *
Since the days of Jefferson, Americans have cast themselves as “a people of feeling,” to borrow a phrase from the historian Andrew Burstein. Ours was a “culture of sensibility.” Americans, in other words, tended to rely on feeling, as opposed to thought, to understand a given question or fix a given problem.
This New World trope was part of what made Americans American. Yes, America was the flower of the Enlightenment and authority derived from law. But reason was not the source of true conviction in American culture. Emotional experience was, as the Great Awakening of the 1730s made starkly plain. One felt, one was converted, then one believed.
The sentimental aspect of the American character assigned great importance to affect. Bearing, demeanor, attitude, posture—these things took on a certain patriotic dimension. A good American had to be observably American.
To be “affectionate,” indeed, was part of what it meant to be American in the early years. But the peaceable, generous, good-willed Americans of the 18th century gave way in the 1820s to the Jacksonian kind of American: Aggressive, uncompromising, masculine in the traditional manner, suspicious of intellect and sympathy, given to swift action and simple justice.
You can see where this leads easily enough.
Think of all the Hollywood films and television programs you have wasted your time watching. Think of John Wayne, Joe Friday, Hoss Cartwright and everything Clint Eastwood has ever done. Think of “Duck Dynasty.” To a very weird extent, our culture consists of a never-ending lesson in the proper American affect. Now as in the 18th century, it is affect that distinguishes us and proves us patriotic.
Same thing in our national political life.
Al Gore was a lousy candidate because his demeanor was wooden—“hard to like the guy.” Bill Clinton can say “I feel your pain” and thus we find faith in his policies. Bush II reports of Putin, “I saw into his soul,” and it is honored as serious comment. Sarah Palin attacks Obama for speaking well, which means he is not “a real patriot.”
And here we are in 2015. Scott Walker says of the most significant diplomatic accord to be negotiated in decades, “We don’t need more information… we need decisive leadership and we need it now…. The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies.”
It says nothing and everything, doesn’t it? Nobody in Cleveland last week said anything of substance, either. Jeb Bush gave one of his foreign policy speeches Tuesday, and again, while he said nothing, the presentation told the whole story. The right wing in American politics is still quoting the 18th century: What matters most is the affect of the man or woman who holds our highest office.
As may be plain, I assign the 2016 presidential contest a large psychological dimension. The policy positions will count, of course, and I will get to them, but what is most fundamentally at issue is the character of the American consciousness.
To strip the point to the simplest terms, we are in an argument between affect and thought, or between feeling and reason. We need to have it, but right-thinking people must recognize that we do not have much time to get it done.
To substitute affect for thought, as all G.O.P. candidates propose, is dangerous for two reasons. First and very practically, it almost inevitably produces bad results. Bush II’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in the post-September 11 period are obvious but not isolated cases. The need was to look tough, to act without thinking, to declare “mission accomplished” on an aircraft carrier’s deck.
Second, affect is a dangerous appeal to the subconscious in us. It addresses unsayable fears, resentments and insecurities, and fortifies idealized selves, self-images derived from impossible Hollywood plots and characters. In this respect it is the doorway to irrational politics and behavior, especially in our conduct abroad.
To complete the thought, while affect may be mistaken for charisma, the two are very different. The latter is a many-sided attribute in a man or woman. Charisma draws its power from thought, insight, imagination, wisdom; it leads people to new understandings, ways of seeing they never knew were possible.
Affect is by comparison one-dimensional. It reduces politics to spectacle, so it is ersatz, WalMart charisma at best. Reagan, who dragged America back into the politics of affect after the defeat in Vietnam, was the master—and hence the idol of all 10 men on the stage in Cleveland. Bobby Kennedy (the later Bobby) or Mandela were by contrast charismatic figures.
Two exceptional pieces on the Republicans have come out since Cleveland. Both shed good light on what the Republicans propose to offer voters as they try to win back the White House.
Last Friday Paul Krugman, the Princeton economist and New York Times columnist, published an opinion item headlined, “They Can’t Be Serious.
“While it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals,” Krugman writes. “Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party…. Or to put it another way, modern Republican politicians can’t be serious—not if they want to win primaries and have any future within the party. Crank economics, crank science, crank foreign policy are all necessary parts of a candidate’s resume.”
There is something in this not to be missed. In effect, the Republicans’ gamble is that the denial of the realities with which we live will prove attractive to enough voters to put a G.O.P. candidate in the White House. Two big things are at stake here. One, the Republicans may turn out to be right. Two, denial is essential to the right wing’s position. They are committed to refusing any acknowledgement of the requirements the 21st century imposes upon us.
Denial is totemic, then—a kind of ritual of refusal. It reflects, and I would say unmistakably, a deep, subconscious fear abroad among us. Many voters want to see and hear denials. They depend on the irrationality of each one.
This is what I mean by a self-destructing party—and the danger all of us will face if we get a Republican victory next year. We will be made prisoners of our past in all its real and imagined aspects. It is not possible, of course, to live well in such a space.
A few days ago the Atlantic published Peter Beinart’s “The Surge Fallacy,” an essay on the return to Bush II foreign policy postures. We have had next to nothing other than bluster from Republican aspirants so far, but again, these people say nothing but tell us everything. Beinart describes a kind of subterranean drift in the right-wing orthodoxy—yet another attempt to lunge backward into permanent avoidance.
“Over the past decade, the foreign-policy debate in Washington has turned upside down,” Beinart begins. “As George W. Bush’s administration drew to an end, the brand of ambitious, expensive, Manichaean, militaristic foreign policy commonly dubbed ‘neoconservative’ seemed on the verge of collapse…. That was then. Today, hawkishness is the hottest thing on the American right. With the exception of Rand Paul, the G.O.P. presidential contenders are vying to take the most aggressive stance against Iran and the Islamic State, or ISIS. The most celebrated freshman Republican senator is Tom Cotton, who gained fame with a letter to Iran’s leaders warning that the United States might not abide by a nuclear deal…”
Beinart identifies a new rewrite of the Iraq narrative—wherein Bush won the war with his 2007 “surge,” and the Obama administration punted it by withdrawing American forces—as the signal moment in this latest iteration of American militarism. The “surge fallacy,” as Beinart calls it, was Jeb Bush’s theme, made ad hominem with an attack on Hillary Clinton, when he spoke Tuesday at—where else?—the Reagan Library in Southern California.
What are we to say when the Republican candidate who trades on an image of moderation—this is his affect, of course—turns out to be as ungiven to reason as the worst in the lineup? The follow-on problem here is that, however well or badly the Republican candidate does in the election, he or she can force any Democrat, with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders, to cast America’s foreign policy alternatives in proximately unreal terms.
The American right’s new hawkishness, thus, is not a sickness from which the rest of us can claim immunity. There is none for Americans. In a remarkable appearance at the Reuters newsroom in New York Tuesday, Secretary of State Kerry put the point as forcefully as he has ever said anything: “Our allies are going to look at us and laugh,” he warned, if this country’s rightists kill the accord with Iran.
Then this: “It’s not going to happen overnight. But I’m telling you, there’s a huge antipathy [to U.S. leadership] out there. There’s a big bloc out there, folks, that isn’t just sitting around waiting for the United States to tell them what to do.”
Last week’s message from Cleveland is simple and stark, it seems to me. The politics of affect must be understood for what it is and then decisively countered if we are to advance into that place known as the 21st century.
This means we have to stop pretending to take posing politicians, those who dress up fear as courage, as credible voices in the conversation Americans need to have. Let the media write about them as if they are serious. They are serious only as measures of how much needs to get swept away.
These judgments may seem Cassandra-like, but so be it. It seems to me Cleveland also told us that the political season to come could prove a last, best hope for who knows how long to alter the course to destruction we remain on.
Patrick Smith is Salon’s foreign affairs columnist. A longtime correspondent abroad, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune and The New Yorker, he is also an essayist, critic and editor. His most recent books are “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale, 2013) and Somebody Else’s Century: East and West in a Post-Western World (Pantheon, 2010). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is patricklawrence.us.


  1. In his desperation to sink the Iran nuclear deal, Bibi Netanyahu is taking a hellish gamble.

    Israel depends upon the United States for $3 billion a year in military aid and diplomatic cover in forums where she is often treated like a pariah state. Israel has also been the beneficiary of almost all the U.S. vetoes in the Security Council.

    America is indispensable to Israel. The reverse is not true.

    Yet, without telling the White House, Bibi had his U.S. ambassador arrange for him to address a joint session of Congress in March — to rip up the president’s Iran nuclear deal before it was even completed.

    The day the deal was signed, using what The Washington Post calls “stark apocalyptic language,” Bibi accused John Kerry of giving the mullahs a “sure path to a nuclear weapon” and a “cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars … to pursue its aggression and terror.”

    Bibi has since inspired and led the campaign to get Congress to kill the deal, the altarpiece of the Obama presidency.

    Israel Ambassador Ron Dermer, a former Republican operative now cast in the role of “Citizen Genet,” has intensively lobbied the Hill to get Congress to pass a resolution of rejection.

    If that resolution passes, as it appears it will, Obama will veto it.

    Then Israel, the Israeli lobby AIPAC, and all its allies and auxiliaries in the think tanks and on op-ed pages will conduct a full-court press to have Congress override the Obama veto and kill his nuclear deal.

    Has Bibi, have the Israelis, considered what would happen should they succeed? Certainly, there would be rejoicing in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and Bibi would be crowned King of Capitol Hill.

    But they will have humiliated an American president by crushing him by two-to-one in his own legislature. Such a defeat could break the Obama presidency and force the resignation of John Kerry, who would have become a laughing stock in international forums.


    1. {...}

      The message would go out to the world. In any clash between the United States and Israel over U.S. policy in the Middle East, bet on Bibi. Bet on Israel. America is Israel’s poodle now.

      With the Gulf nations having joined Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia in backing the deal, Israel is isolated in its opposition. And, two weeks ago, Kerry warned that if Congress rejects the deal, “Israel could end up being more isolated and more blamed.”

      Hardly an outrageous remark.

      Yet, Israel’s ex-ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren fairly dripped condescension and contempt in his retort: “The threat of the secretary of state who, in the past, warned that Israel was in danger of being an apartheid state, cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty to oppose this dangerous deal.”

      But this is not Israel’s deal. It is our deal, and our decision. And Israel is massively interfering in our internal affairs to scuttle a deal the president believes is in the vital interests of the United States.

      When the U.S. and Israel disagree over U.S. policy in the Mideast, who decides for America? Them or us?

      Why does Barack Obama take this? Why does John Kerry take this?

      One can only imagine what President Eisenhower would have done had he seen Bibi at the rostrum of the U.S. House of Representatives, ripping apart his Middle East policy. Or had Ike learned that an Israeli ambassador was working the halls of Congress to kill an arms deal he and John Foster Dulles had just negotiated.

      Lest we forget, Ike told his wartime colleague, Prime Minister Anthony Eden, to get his army out of Suez or he would sink the British pound. Ike then told Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to get his army out of Sinai or face U.S. economic reprisals.

      Eden and Ben-Gurion did as they were told.

      That was an America respected by friend and foe alike.

      When Harry Truman felt that Gen. Douglas MacArthur had been insubordinate in resisting presidential restrictions on his actions in Korea, Truman fired the general and astounded the nation.

      Yet this president and John Kerry have been wimpishly seeking for weeks to placate Netanyahu. And Bibi is no Douglas MacArthur.

      Time to stop acting like wusses.

      The president should declare Dermer persona non grata and send him packing, then tell the Israeli government we will discuss a new arms package when you have a prime minister who understands that no nation interferes in the internal affairs of the United States. None.

      That could bring Bibi’s government, with its single-vote majority, crashing down. And why not? After all, Bibi was a virtual surrogate for Mitt Romney when Mitt was trying to bring down Obama.

      Obama and Kerry are never running again. Deep down, they would surely relish taking Bibi down. And they could do it.

      Deal or no deal, it is time America started acted like America again.


    2. The president should declare Dermer persona non grata and send him packing, then tell the Israeli government we will discuss a new arms package when you have a prime minister who understands that no nation interferes in the internal affairs of the United States. None.

    3. Did America not interfere in the internal affairs of almost every other nation on the planet?

      Did obama's own political machine not interfere with the recent elections in Israel?

      As for arms? Israel sees the writing on the wall and is replacing American arms as fast as possible with it's own.

      Sure American aid is important, however it's being viewed with more and more suspicion on a daily basis.

      The good news?

      Obama will be gone in 1.5 years and common sense and rational leaders will be back in the Whitehouse.

      America stands with Israel. Regardless of of what some fringe Jew haters/ Zionist bashers say.


    4. .

      Did obama's own political machine not interfere with the recent elections in Israel?



  2. Maybe Jeebus does love the United States, or, maybe God just has a quirky sense of humor.

    At any rate, the U.S. nuts being pulled out of the fire by a Black President, voted into office by a conglomeration of Blacks, Latinos, and Asian-Americans is delicious irony, if nothing else.

    1. Sadly the American Jewish community voted for that black president.

      Maybe you could, when not calling Jews traitors, acknowledge that.

  3. Producer Prices Down 0.8% ($0.80 on $100.00) Year on Year.

    Economic Calendar

  4. Deuce ☂Fri Aug 14, 12:00:00 AM EDT
    The president should declare Dermer persona non grata and send him packing, then tell the Israeli government we will discuss a new arms package when you have a prime minister who understands that no nation interferes in the internal affairs of the United States. None.

    Look to Iran…

    Valerie Jarett

    George Soros

    and of course:Obama’s Trita Parsi, Agent of Tehran’s Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Intelligence & Security, and his position in the White House


    Trita Parsi and NIAC's relation with Iranian ambassador Zarif

    Trita Parsi and NIAC's relation with Iranian ambassador Zarif

    In 2006 the Iranian nuclear file was referred to the UN Security Council and international pressure notably from the US administration mounted against Iran. The Iranian regime launched a campaign to establish contacts with anti-Bush politicians and exploit Political Divisions in Washington over policy with Iran.

    NIAC’s internal documents show that during 2006-2007, NIAC’s president Trita Parsi played an important role in this campaign and arranged meetings between Javad Zarif, the Iranian ambassador to the UN and US Congress members who according to Parsi : ”were disillusioned with Bush foreign policy and are tired to sit on the sidelines as Bush undermines the US’s global position. They are willing to take matters in their own hands and they accept the political risk that comes with it.”

    The documents show NIAC coordinated with Iranian ambassador to influence US policy with Iran.

    Later in 2008 and 2009, Parsi and NIAC had an active role in arranging the meeting between US politicians and Iranian officials in Europe. The Iranian delegations was led by Hashemi Samareh, chief advisor and confident of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    1. .

      Obama’s Trita Parsi, Agent of Tehran’s Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Intelligence & Security, and his position in the White House

      What position in the White House?

      You put up some article printed in Academia.edu by some guy named Stephen Hughes. Academia.edu does not qualify as an education site. It was grandfathered in before new restrictions were place on the use of .edu. It's an open free learning site and there are multiple Stephen Hughes who have put up papers there. This particular Stephen Hughes is distinguished as he appears to be dressed in combat camo uniform in the picture he put up.

      If you follow the links in the article you will see that all he really did was pretty much copy the same article from The Western Center for Journalism. It didn't take long to find out who the Western Center for Journalism is and was. Here is an article printed in the Huffington Post that describes what the WCJ actually does.

      Everything printed in the WCJ is anonymous but if you follow some of the links back a ways you come across Pamela Geller stating the same things.

      All the article are filled with quotes but they never get around to telling you who it is they are quoting.

      If you want to make your case, you might want to do better than this.


    2. Quirk you are so lazy…

      do some research..

      after all you would not believe anything I put up anyway..

      I gave you enough for most intelligent folks to figure it out…

      So get off your lazy ass and google…

      UNless the truth scares you???


    3. .

      You are like a 5 year old kid. You come up with logical fallacies and analogies that make no sense and when you are laughed at you end up calling someone a 'coward'. You do it all the time and it makes no sense. Now, calm down, put a cold compress on your head, and try to nap until you are a little less hysterical.

      Actually, I did google. How do you think I got the info I did?

      I hadn't heard about Trita Parsi so I looked him up. I wasn't familiar with NIAC so I looked it up. I tried looking up Parsi's 'position in the White House'. What I found...

      Parsi is an Iranian partisan and supporter of Iran who along with his family were prosecuted under both the Shah and the Ayatollah and were forced to leave the country. He was a writer and a diplomat and worked at the UN. In 2002, he formed NIAC to promote Iranian interests here in the US.

      I knew nothing of NIAC which isn't surprising since it's only been around for about a decade or so. According to wiki, In 2002, Parsi founded the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), whose stated purpose is "advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. We accomplish our mission by supplying the resources, knowledge and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision making by lawmakers."[6] I went to their website and got the same impression I get every time I visit AIPAC.org, that is, why in the world aren't these guys forced to register under the FARA laws, clearly their aim is to promote the national interests of another country, not America.

      As for Parsi actually having a 'position at the white house', I couldn't find anything on that in the legitimate media. ZIP.

      So I checked out your source. The link you provided was from a guy named Stephen Hayes. No other biography was given. I don't know who he is. While I did a little googling, it wasn't all that extensive since there were so many Stephen Hayes who have posted on Academia.edu but I suspect that it was a lot more googling than you did.

      As for Academia.edu, it is merely a free-learning site that allows papers to be posted there for wider distribution.

      Following the links in the article quickly showed that ol' Stephen was merely repackaging a story he had picked up somewhere else, in some cases he re-printed it almost word for word. One link led back to the Western Center for Journalism, a right-wing, conspiracy web site run by the guy who also came up with WorldNetDaily. Like Academia.edu they don't really offer up original stuff, they merely re-post other people's stuff. Looking a little further I found the article, word for word, printed out on Pamela Geller's website. There were no links provided there so possibly she is the original source.

      What I noticed was there were plenty of quotes in the original piece but no sources which immediately gets my antenna up. But perhaps my googling skills aren't quite up to your standards, so please, tell me, where and how you find these conspiracy web sites.


  5. QuirkFri Aug 14, 05:27:00 PM EDT

    You are like a 5 year old kid.

    Yes, alive and young at heart...

    And you?

    Are a crusty old piece of work...

    Cantankerous and for of it...

    Might I suggest more fiber?

    1. .

      Right, sonny-boy, now it's time for your nap.


  6. Life in Gaza:


  7. .

    Reporting from Iran, Jewish paper sees no plot to destroy Israel

    The first journalist from an American Jewish pro-Israel publication to be given an Iranian visa since 1979 reported Wednesday that he had found little evidence to suggest that Iran wanted to destroy Israel, as widely asserted by critics of the Iranian nuclear agreement.

    The journalist, Larry Cohler-Esses, assistant managing editor for news at The Forward, an influential New York-based newspaper catering to U.S. Jews, also wrote that people in Iran, including its Jews, were eager for outside interaction and willing to speak critically about their government.

    While he heard widespread criticism of the Israeli government and its policies toward the Palestinians, Cohler-Esses wrote, he also found support among some senior clerics for a two-state solution, should the Palestinians pursue that outcome.

    “Though I had to work with a government fixer and translator, I decided which people I wanted to interview and what I would ask them,” Cohler-Esses wrote in the first of at least two articles from his July reporting trip. “Far from the stereotype of a fascist Islamic state, I found a dynamic push-and-pull between a theocratic government and its often reluctant and resisting people.”

    Cohler-Esses’ reporting, coming as Congress prepares to vote on the nuclear agreement next month, presents a more nuanced view of Iran compared with the dark descriptions advanced by a number of Jewish-American advocacy groups that consider Iran a rogue enemy state.

    Many of those groups have exhorted lawmakers to reject the nuclear agreement, which will end sanctions in return for verified guarantees that Iran’s nuclear work remains peaceful.

    “Ordinary Iranians with whom I spoke have no interest at all in attacking Israel,” Cohler-Esses wrote. “Their concern is with their own sense of isolation and economic struggle.”

    Among some of Iran’s senior ayatollahs and prominent officials, he wrote, there is also dissent from the official line against Israel.

    “No one had anything warm to say about the Jewish state,” he wrote. “But pressed as to whether it was Israel’s policies or its very existence to which they objected, several were adamant: It’s Israel’s policies.”

    While he wrote that there was no freedom of the press in Iran, “freedom of the tongue has been set loose.”

    “I was repeatedly struck by the willingness of Iranians to offer sharp, even withering criticisms of their government on the record, sometimes even to be videotaped doing so,” Cohler-Esses wrote.

    He added that members of Iran’s Jewish population of 9,000 to 20,000 people, “depending on whom you talk to,” were also unafraid to complain about discriminatory laws that restrict their ability to work in the government.

    He described them as “basically well-protected second-class citizens - a broadly prosperous, largely middle-class community whose members have no hesitation about walking down the streets of Tehran wearing yarmulkes.”

    Iran’s government, he wrote, “makes a rigid distinction between hostility to ‘the Zionist entity’ and respect for followers of Judaism...”


  8. Anyone with a brain could see that Iran has no interest in destroying Israel. Why bother? What would it gain for Iran?

    1. The fear mongering, hysteria and the dumbest political body on the planet will hopefully be ignored.

    2. If Iran attacked Israel and was successful, what would Iran gain? Iran is predominantly Shia as is its proxy, Hezbollah, but Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and is Sunni. Iran’s military success against Israel could very well lead to a war between Hamas and Hezbollah.

      If Iran should not be successful, Israel has the capabilities to strike all major Iranian cities. If the Israelis did not do it, the US would. The Iranians know that. Unlike the US Congress the Iranians are no where near as ignorant of regional politics, history and current realities.

      Iran with a population has the capabilities of becoming an industrial power. War with Israel brings Iran no benefit.

      An attack on Israel has potentially large costs with little or no benefit. Anyone that says otherwise is either a liar or a fool.

    3. Iran has a population of 77 million, ten times that of Israel. Israel has demographic problems that will overwhelm it in the next 25 years. If Iran wanted to see the end of Israel, it needs to do nothing except wait and watch.

    4. With smart political leadership Israel would be wise to see Iran as its salvation and not succumb to the hysterical nonsense of the Likud and US Christian Rapturists.

  9. .

    I worry about the F-35 more than I worry about Iran.

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—a do-it-all strike jet being designed by Lockheed Martin to evade enemy radars, bomb ground targets and shoot down rival fighters—is as troubled as ever. Any recent tidbits of apparent good news can’t alter a fundamental flaw in the plane’s design with roots going back decades.

    Owing to heavy design compromises foisted on the plane mostly by the Marine Corps, the F-35 is an inferior combatant, seriously outclassed by even older Russian and Chinese jets that can fly faster and farther and maneuver better. In a fast-moving aerial battle, the JSF “is a dog … overweight and underpowered,” according to Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C.

    And future enemy planes, designed strictly with air combat in mind, could prove even deadlier to the compromised JSF.

    F'd: How the U.S. and Its Allies Got Stuck with the World's Worst New Warplane

    Sprey warned it could take years of expensive experimentation and a steep learning curve for American aerospace engineers to relearn the principles of sound fighter design that have been lost during the F-35’s emerging monopoly—and that the only way to get there is to fund a series of inexpensive head-to-head competitions based on head-to-head mock dogfights between rival prototypes.

    But that investment of time, talent and cost would be better than continuing with an over-budget, past-due warplane that can’t turn, can’t climb and can’t run because it’s hauling around a lift fan that makes Marines feel better about World War II but isn’t actually practical in the present day.

    Replacing America’s useless, universal fighter would be a headache, according to Wheeler, but keeping it would be far worse. The F-35, he wrote, “will needlessly spill the blood of far too many of our pilots.”


  10. I have no capability in evaluating either side of the pro and con on the F-35. In general, anything in technology that is decades old in design and development is handicapped by obsolete technological decisions. Pick any current technology in any field and compare it to its predecessors of 20 years ago. The more technology baked into a design, the more opportunities for design conflict and obsolescence. You can accuse the F-35 of many things, simplicity in design is not one of them.

    The F-35 is a composition of so many systems over such a long period of time with so many architects and political decisions, costing so much money, that it would almost be a 100% chance that it would be obsolete the day that it is operational.

    1. Anything good in the design will be ripped off by the Chinese in months and all the baked in crap will be tossed.

    2. .

      It is assumed they already have. The design of one of their new jets coming out within a couple years looks amazingly like the F-35 although simpler (no jump-jet feature, lighter weight) and has more power (two engines instead of one).


  11. With the F-35 there is an even more fundamental problem. Why are we designing and manufacturing a manned fighter plane in 2015?

    1. .

      We started designing this thing 20 years ago. Before the age of drones. I suspect that was a big part of it.


  12. I agree; surely this will be the last of the "manned" fighters.

    I remember when all you read about the F22 was what a dog it was.

    As for "dog-fighting," that's a thing of the past in the age of AmRaams, and Stealth.

    1. .

      That's what Lockheed says. The F-35 is never supposed to even see its targets other than from a distance. Two problems. First, the new Russian and Chinese 5th generation jets coming out in a few years will have the same stealth technology as the F-35; in fact, from what has been surmised by the design of one of the new Chinese jets coming out, the Chinese somehow stole the best features of the F-35 and improved upon them. Second, you can't change physics. Adding the Harrier-jet feature insisted upon by the Marines compromised the design of the plane from speed and maneuverability to survivability and weapons systems. As soon as the F-35 runs out of weapons (limited because of design) it becomes a sitting duck.